Fordham Notes: December 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Father Ryan Reports from West Africa (V): "Newsworthiness"

Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society Patrick J. Ryan, S.J. is spending a month in Africa, a continent where he previously lived for 26 years. During his time there, he will be blogging about his experiences. Here is his latest post:

I went by air from Lagos in Nigeria to Accra in Ghana on the night of Dec. 28. The plane, only one-third full, left two and a half hours late but the flight only took 35 minutes. In its flight path we flew over two other countries, the republics of Benin and Togo. The map is rather crowded in this part of coastal West Africa.

I was expecting heightened security at the Lagos airport, but found it efficient but relaxed. My baggage was not opened. At Accra, however, a large plane coming from Amsterdam arrived at the same time and some of its passengers had their luggage inspected on arrival.

Many people greeted me as "Pastor"--my black clerical shirt and collar are still regarded as more Protestant than Catholic here in West Africa.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon visiting old friends, including a 95-year-old man, Dominic Attigah, and his wife Anna, 88 ("Pa Dominic" and "Maame Anna"), whom I have known since 1974. He is fairly deaf now and she is blind.

They were finally married "in Church" (actually, the priest celebrated the wedding for them at home) last August. Togolese by origin, the Attigahs came to Ghana in 1951. Pa Dominic remembers it was the year that Kwame Nkrumah was transformed from independence agitator to leader of government business in the colonial regime.

At night I met and had supper with George Atta-Boateng (FCLS '07, GSAS ‘09), who is now a key figure in the computerization of the Ministry of Education.

-- Pat Ryan, S.J.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Father Ryan Reports from West Africa (IV): "Fordham and Nigeria"

Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society Patrick J. Ryan, S.J. is spending a month in Africa, a continent where he previously lived for 26 years. During his time there, he will be blogging about his experiences. Here is his fourth post:

Over the years, many Nigerians have studied at Fordham, most notably in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, but also in nearly every other School as well. What few people now realize is the connection between Fordham and the original coming of Jesuits to Nigeria.

The Catholic Bishops of Nigeria asked for Jesuit professors to help in the foundation of the state-run University of Lagos at its inception in 1962. UNESCO asked NYU and Fordham for academic staff as well. The first Jesuit to come, who had a Ph.D. from Fordham in biology but was teaching at St Peter's College in Jersey City, was Father Joseph Schuh. A year later two other Jesuits came: Father Joseph Schuyler, who had a Fordham Ph.D. in sociology and was teaching at Fordham's seminary campus in Shrub Oak, N.Y.; and Father Joseph McKenna, who had a Ph.D. From Yale and was the head of the political science department at Fordham.

Schuh returned to St. Peter's in 1965 but Schuyler remained at Unilag, as it is called, until his retirement in 1986. He stayed another nine years beyond that in pastoral work in Lagos until health reasons mandated his return to the U.S. in 1995. McKenna never actually taught at Unilag --many Nigerians have Ph.D.s in political science--but fulfilled many roles for the bishops and the Jesuits in Nigeria until 1984, when he retired back to other Jesuit assignments around Fordham. In 1997, Fordham University Press published a study he did on varieties of Marxism in Africa and the response of the Catholic Church to that phase in recent African history.

All three Joes did Fordham proud over the years. McKenna's 1969 essay in Foreign Affairs on prospects for peace after the Nigerian civil war, published when the war was still ongoing, drew praise from the federal government of Nigeria at the time.

I arrived in Nigeria with three other Jesuits in 1964, just after I had finished an M.A. in English at Fordham; the degree was awarded in February 1965 while I was in Nigeria. I taught English in a Catholic but non-Jesuit high school in Nigeria in 1964-65. On this trip, I found myself sleeping on Christmas Eve in the same house where I slept on Christmas Eve of 1964. On Christmas Day, I had lunch in a Chinese restaurant with the best student I taught back then, Anthony Akingbade, now a 61-year-old medical doctor who eventually did his undergraduate studies at Harvard and his medical formation at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, our Bronx neighbor.

-- Pat Ryan, S.J.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Father McShane Speaks at Jan. 10 Event in D.C.

John Carroll Society
Baptism of the Lord - Mass & Brunch
Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sponsored by the John Carroll Society in conjunction with the Alumni/ae of Georgetown University, Trinity College, The Catholic University of America, College of the Holy Cross, Fairfield University, Fordham University, Providence College, University of Notre Dame, Mount Saint Mary’s University and University of Dayton.

Mass at 10 a.m. at St. Patrick Church
10th & G Streets, NW**
(One block from Metro Center and Gallery Place)

His Excellency, Most Reverend Pietro Sambi
Principal Celebrant
Apostolic Nuncio to the United States

Reverend Monsignor Peter J. Vaghi
Pastor of Little Flower Church & Chaplain of the John Carroll Society

Reverend Joseph M. McShane, S.J.
President of Fordham University
Brunch Speaker
“The Past, Present and Future of Catholic Education”

Brunch immediately following at
Grand Hyatt Washington
1000 H Street, NW
(one block from St. Patrick Church)

Reservations for Brunch - $40 per seat | Due January 5, 2010

Online registration available at
Click “Events” and then click the registration link under “January Mass & Brunch.”

**Complimentary parking in the 10th Street Garage between G and H Streets. Have your garage ticket validated by the machine in the vestibule at St. Patrick after the Mass and before the brunch.

Father Ryan Reports from West Africa (III): "A Wedding"

Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society Patrick J. Ryan, S.J. is spending a month in Africa, a continent where he previously lived for 26 years. During his time there, he will be blogging about his experiences. Here is his third post:

A good friend of mine, Nicholas Ojehomon, was married on Saturday, Dec. 19 to a young woman, Amaka, whom I only knew slightly when I was president of Loyola Jesuit College from 1999 to 2005.

Like all church services in West Africa, the wedding ceremony was long--about two hours. Father Gerald W. Aman, S.J (FCRH '69), the executive assistant to the Jesuit Provincial here, presided and preached.

He made a great deal in his homily about a passage from the Epistle to the Ephesians that doesn't go over very weill in America:: "Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord" (Eph 5:22). Then the couple acted it out: she gathered her wedding dress around her and knelt before her seated husband, placing her hands between his and promised due submission.

I was feeling uncomfortable about this (I was concelebrating) when suddenly Fr. Aman dramatically reversed the situation. The Epistle goes on to say, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water and the word" (Eph 5:25-26). Fr. Aman seated Amaka and Nicholas knelt before her, removed one of her shoes, and washed her foot as Christ did at the Last Supper (John 13).

Somehow it transformed my understanding of that scriptural passage. I thought partucularly of a good friend in America who has recently lost his wife to cancer, and how he cared for her so tenderly to the end. Marriage, as the same Epistle says, "is a great mystery."

I would like to send some pictures of this wedding taken by another friend who works at Loyola Jesuit College, but I don't have them to forward just yet.

It is hot and dry in Abuja while it has been snowing in New York.

-- Pat Ryan, S.J.

Monsignor Quinn on Sunday Religion Panel

Monsignor Joseph G. Quinn, J.D., J.C.L., vice president for University mission and ministry at Fordham, will be on the NBC show The Debrief with David Ushery. Monsignor Quinn's co-panelists are Imam Shamsi Ali, head of The Islamic Cultural Center of New York, and Rabbi Joseph Potasnik of Congregation Mount Sinai in Brooklyn Heights.

The show airs Sunday, Dec. 27 at noon on WNBC Channel 4.

The show's topics include keeping religion relevant in the 21st century, faith's role in coping with a troubled economy, and the spiritual journeys of the three clergymen.

Photo: Behind the scenes (literally), host David Ushery, Rabbi Potasnik, Monsignor Quinn and Imam Ali under the lights at WNBC Studios at Rockefeller Center.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Father Ryan Reports from West Africa (II): "Let There Be Light"

Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society Patrick J. Ryan, S.J. is spending a month in Africa, a continent where he previously lived for 26 years. During his time there, he will be blogging about his experiences. Here is his second post:

When I arrived in Abuja, Emmanuel Dyeltong, a driver for Loyola Jesuit College, remarked that "NEPA is really trying these days." That sentence, not perhaps immediately intelligible to the stranger, means that, in his opinion, the Nigerian Electric Power Authority is delivering the goods more regularly in Abuja lately.

Thursday night, I found this generalization somewhat challenged. During supper with the Jesuit community, NEPA went off three times. Michael, the man in charge of the 500 kV generator for the school compound, can be heard on his motor scooter heading for the generator. The roar of the generator begins. Then NEPA returns, and the roar stops. Five minutes later the same scenario is repeated. And again, ten minutes later.

Cell phones prove very useful at these sudden onsets of darkness. Several of the Jesuits at table use them for illumination as supper continues. Much easier to find the salt and pepper.

"Let there be light." I felt I was back in Nigeria last summer at Rose Hill when part of the campus was without power for a few days. What struck me at the time was how quiet the much larger generators hired in at Fordham were.

-- Pat Ryan, S.J.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Father Ryan Reports from West Africa (I)

Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society Patrick J. Ryan, S.J. is spending a month in Africa, a continent where he previously lived for 26 years. During his time there, he will be blogging about his experiences. Here is his first post:

I arrived in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, at noon today, Dec. 17, after a 12-hour journey on Delta that included a 90-minute stopover in Dakar, Senegal. Many Nigerians and Senegalese on the flight were traveling with young children. I had forgotten how hard it is for the ears of small children to take the process of landing.

I arrived at our Jesuit high school, Loyola Jesuit College, where I was president from 1999 to 2005, an hour or so later, after dropping off Tony Akande (FCRH '07) who is visiting family at Christmas.

The students have gone home for Christmas since last Saturday. The nearby village is now electrified, which means there are competing charismatic churches making a joyful noise to the Lord. I hope they won't go all night.

Karl Marx wrote that religion “is the opium of the people,” but more interestingly, just before that, wrote that religion “is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions." I feel that the people of Gidan Mangoro –“home of mangoes” -- are finding the heart of a heartless world tonight, even if I am jet-lagged and would like to go to bed.

I offered mass this evening for legendary Graduate School of Social Service Dean Mary-Ann Quaranta. May she receive the reward of her labors!

-- Pat Ryan, S.J.

FCLC Dancer Comes ThisClose

FCLC Sophomore Jakob Karr placed second in last night's final competition on So You Think You Can Dance. Karr, from Orlando, Fla., came to the Lincoln Center campus in August 2008, and auditioned for the reality dance series' sixth season in New Orleans in June 2009.

Show judge and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe called Karr "a truly polished diamond," and fellow judge, choreographer Mary Murphy said "Jakob, you are definitely one of the best dancers in this competition. There isn't anything you can't do." That wasn't enough to take the top slot, however, and Karr fell to Russell Ferguson, a 20-year-old krumper from Boston, who took home the $250,000 prize.

Throughout the competition, Karr was considered one of the most technically accomplished dancers. Lythgoe called him "outstandingly brilliant," and earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal called him "incredible in a contemporary routine," and predicted he would win the competition.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Leader's Edge

Sander A. Flaum, adjunct professor of management systems at Fordham's Graduate School of Business Administration (GBA), talks about leadership in his regular Robin Hood Radio segment, Leader's Edge, on WHDD 91.9FM or 1020 AM, on "The Breakfast Club," which airs daily.

Podcasts of Flaum's segment are available on the website,, including the most recent talk, Multi Tasking.

Flaum, founding chair of the Fordham Leadership Forum, also has a new book out, Big Shoes: How Successful Leaders Grow into New Roles.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Matthew Maguire, Wild Man

Fans of Fordham’s theater productions are no doubt familiar with Matthew Maguire, director. Next month, for three weeks, they’re invited to see Maguire, who heads the university’s theater department at the Lincoln Center campus, in a very different guise.

“Wild Man,” a one man show written and performed by Maguire, debuts on Monday, January 11 at 195 East Third Street in Manhattan and runs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m through January 26. Tickets for the show, which Maguire says “probes ecstasy, runaway horses, the Book of Esdras, smuggling watermelons and cheatin’ death,” are available via phone, at (212) 352-3101. Or visit Creative Productions for more information.

—Patrick Verel

Fordham's Resident Filmmaker Honored

One of Fordham Lincoln Center’s artists-in-residence, filmmaker Ross McLaren, has received the Millennium Achievement Award from EVVY Cultural Interchange for his longstanding contribution to the arts and education.

McLaren has taught film and media production in the Department of Theatre and Visual Arts since 1986. He received the award on Nov. 11 at the 35th annual EVVY awards, held in Times Square. Previous winners include Cuban conga percussionist Candido Camero, Hispanic documentary filmmaker Ivan Acosta, and Greg Sutton, the executive producer of Brooklyn Community Access Television.

EVVY is a non-profit organization that promotes local and international mediums of art, music and fashion between the North American countries. It also provides financial aid to help educate children in the New York City foster care system.

A native of Canada, McLaren is the founder of the Funnel Film Theatre in Toronto, a venue for experimental/artist-based films and for the encouragement of Super 8 films.

His own documentary and art films have been featured at MoMA, Anthology Film Archives, the National Film Theatre in London, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Biennale du Paris, Documenta VI, Jyväskylä University in Finland, and ARKEN Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Filling Big Shoes

When it comes to leadership, Sander A. Flaum has written the book. Literally. Big Shoes: How Successful Leaders Grow into New Roles is a how-to manual for young business leaders who want stellar careers on their own terms.

Flaum, adjunct professor of management systems at Fordham's Graduate School of Business Administration (GBA), and founding chair of the Fordham Leadership Forum, says he wrote the book especially for business people fresh out of school, and indeed leads the book with "You're Hired. Now What?"

The book's relentless focus is how to get to the top, how to stay at the top, and how to manage your life while you're there:

Our research has shown ... superleaders fit a particular profile. They are younger. They understand the agony of sleepless nights and 24/7 weeks. They realize their performance can slip when they are family-deprived and relatively friendless. They’re quick to sense when their spouses are reaching the boiling point or when their kids need to come first.
(Read an excerpt from the book: Is There Life at the Top? Or Just Work?)

Flaum is the CEO of Flaum Partners, a pharmaceutical and biotech consulting firm. Prior to launching his own firm, Flaum was chairman and CEO of Robert A. Becker, Euro RSCG, where he led a global team of marketing and advertising strategists who managed six $2 billion-plus healthcare brands.

The Fordham Leadership Forum will host its inaugural lecture in January with E. Gerald Corrigan, managing director at Goldman Sachs and co-chair of the firmwide risk management committee. Corrigan, former president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, will lead a discussion with Fordham students and faculty, and the public, on "Leadership: Making the Right Things Happen."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

GBA Grad Wins Business Competition

Graduate School of Business alumna Amanda Allen (GBA ’10) has done it again.

Seven months after leading a team to first place victory at the Baruch College and Merrill Lynch Invitational Entrepreneurship Competition, Allen (wearing glasses in the above photo) has led a team to victory in the Pace University Pitch competition.

Allen’s team won two top prizes – The TechSpace Prize of Six Months of Office Space for a New York City Start-Up Pitch, valued at $15,000, and a check for $25,000 from the Lubin School of Business Prize for the Winning New Business Concept Pitch. Both will help Allen's launch of, a wedding gift registry “dedicated to uniting New York City’s rich array of independent merchants and service providers with local engaged couples and gift givers.”

Allen and her team were awarded prices on Dec. 3 at the Lubin School of Business at Pace University. In all, ten finalists and two alternates battled for over $50,000 in cash prizes at the sixth annual competition. The finalists and alternates, who hail from a dozen universities, were chosen from over 150 entries representing 40 schools.

The Pace Pitch contest is based on the Elevator Pitch concept, popular in the venture capital community. The premise is that a concise description of business or product could be made in a few minutes, should the entrepreneur spot a potential investor on an elevator and have the opportunity to pitch their idea during the brief ride.
Last May, Allen’s team took first place in the 2008-2009 Baruch College and Merrill Lynch Competition for Pandora’s Wish, a New York City-based online bridal registry.

Allen conceived the idea for Pandora’s Wish during her own engagement, during which she discovered that stores with which she wished to register lacked online registries. After leaving her job as a federal bank examiner in January 2008, she enrolled at GBA with the express purpose of starting her own business. She continued to refine the idea throughout the course of her studies.

-Gina Vergel

Friday, December 4, 2009

Feast of the Immaculate Conception Services

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception
(A Holy Day of Obligation)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lincoln Center Masses
• 8:30 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. in the Blessed Rupert Mayer, S.J., Chapel (Lowenstein 221)

Rose Hill Masses
• 8:30 a.m. in the Keating Blue Chapel
• 12:30 p.m. in the University Church
• 5:15 p.m. in the University Church

Westchester Mass
•12:45 p.m. in the Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J., Chapel
• Followed by an Advent Reconciliation Service (see below)

Advent Reconciliation and Vespers Services

Lincoln Center | Wednesday, December 9, 2009
• Advent Reconciliation Service
• 4:00-5:30 p.m. in the Blessed Rupert Mayer, S.J., Chapel (Lowenstein 221)
• Priests will be available for individual confession

Rose Hill | Thursday, December 10, 2009
• Advent Vespers/Reconciliation Service
• 4:30 p.m. in the University Church
• All are invited to attend Advent Vespers. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered as part of the Vespers service.

Westchester | Tuesday, December 8, 2009
• Advent Reconciliation Service
• 1:15 p.m. in the Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J., Chapel
• Priests will be available for individual confession

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

RETC Partners with Charter School to 'Kindle' Children’s Interest in Reading

Children today have an affinity for techno-gadgets that adults simply can’t match.

Youngsters surf the Internet faster, send text messages more often and create videos and blogs on just about anything. Now, a partnership between Fordham and a local charter school is set to find out if technology can make students more interested in reading.

The Amazon Kindle—a popular electronic book reader from online media retailer—is at the heart of the program. Amazon recently told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that it is selling 48 Kindles for every 100 physical books.

So why shouldn’t it be used in schools?

That was the question that prompted the partnership between Fordham’s RETC—Center for Professional Development and the Carl C. Icahn Charter School. Using a $670,000 federal Department of Energy grant awarded to Fordham last year, Amazon Kindles were purchased for use by students at the South Bronx school.

“We started thinking about the educational applications of this device and wondering if it would have some noticeable affect on the students’ reading habits, comprehension, or motivation to read,” said Steven D’Agustino, Ph.D., director of the RETC.

“So far, they’ve turned out to be a perfect fit for the Icahn School, which already had a longstanding emphasis on the integration of technology,” D’Agustino said.

The sleek electronic tablets are being used to foster reading among seventh and eighth graders in English language arts (ELA), one of the classes offered during the school’s special-interest period. Other special-interest courses include foreign language, algebra, history, and robotics.

Principal Daniel Garcia admits that robotics and ELA are the popular classes right now because of the technology.

“We’re looking at making the other areas equally exciting,” he said.

Icahn, which opened in 2001, saw 99 percent of its third- through eighth-graders ace this year’s state math exams, and 94 percent do the same in reading. It’s something to be proud of at a school where 90 percent of children come from low-income households.

“There was a successful formula already in place when I came here some years ago. I didn’t need to fix anything,” Garcia said of Icahn’s recipe for success—class sizes that are capped at 18 students and an enriched curriculum known as Core Knowledge.

“To continue the good results, we had to offer students something different. We need to keep pushing the envelope all the time,” he said.

Technology works, Garcia added, because, in most cases, it fosters immediate student engagement.

“If each kid at this school had a Kindle, they would all be engaged,” he said. “I can’t say that would happen if they all had a book in front of them.”

The Kindle uses a display technology called electronic ink, meant to mimic the experience of reading a book. It is easier to read in bright light and uses less electricity than displays on laptop computers and cell phones. It also has a built-in dictionary that defines words on command, as well as a highlighting feature.

“They can even flip back and forth between two books if they are comparing two pieces of literature,” Garcia said. “It’s wonderful.”

Eleven-year-old Isani Castro agrees.

“It’s cool,” said the seventh-grader, who, along with a small group, chose to read a Shakespeare comedy.

Eighth-grader Joshua Irizarry, 13, also reading Shakespeare, initially didn’t know what to make of the Kindle.

“I thought it was a mini-laptop. I didn’t know it was actually something you can read,” he said. “It’s really good and holds a lot of books and is very high-tech.”

ELA teacher Dana Halber said the trick was in the technology.

“They say, ‘I’m so much more interested. It’s so exciting,’” Halber said. “Their level of engagement is up because they are part of a much more technological generation. They go home and play video games and hop on the computer to use the Internet. So this is another piece of technology that fits into their lifestyle.”

The grant that helped fund this project was obtained with the help of Congressman José E. Serrano, D-NY, said Leslie Massiah, assistant vice president for government relations at Fordham.

“The purpose of the grant is to provide science and mathematics expansion not only at the University, but within area middle and high schools,” Massiah said of the grant, which has helped to fund robotics programs at other area schools.

“We wanted to expose students and teachers to new technology and be able to bring students up academically and to help them in terms of developing pedagogy.”

-Gina Vergel

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

GSE Students Present at NCTE

Kristen H. Turner, Ph.D., assistant professor of education at Fordham, attended the National Council of Teachers of English's convention in November, along with several students from the Graduate School of Education.

Graduate student Kathleen Riley participated in a panel in which she spoke on "Theory into Practice: My Journey with Code-Switching." GSE students Jeta Donovan and Eytan Apter presented findings from a research study in their talk "Online and In Step: Community, Convention, and Self-Expression." They have been a part of the study from its inception.